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Nathan Gerber, Fanshawe College energy coordinator (left), and Mike Isber, London Hydro manager of industrial conservation, believe energy savings boost the sustainability performance of organizations.

Energy conservation is a top priority for London's Fanshawe College, as it works to maximize the school's triple bottom line impacts: social, environmental and economic.

To ensure a bright future for its many stakeholders, Fanshawe is partnering with London Hydro through Ontario's Save on Energy conservation programs powered by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

Save on Energy helps businesses and institutions across the province realize significant savings and benefits, from increased competitiveness to improved operations to a healthier bottom line. In particular, incentives are available to help launch an embedded energy manager position to act on specific energy-efficient goals and achieve long-lasting returns on investment.

At Fanshawe, Nathan Gerber – the college's first-ever energy coordinator – is excited by the cumulative conservation results happening across the campus. "With 42 buildings, at 13 sites in four counties, we are constantly looking for new energy management opportunities (EMOs) to reduce energy use and limit our carbon footprint," says Mr. Gerb er. "Our EMO projects range from simple, new processes that are regularly repeated, to low-cost, one-time actions done at a reasonable price, to large-scale, high-payback retrofit plans for buildings and equipment. And they all reinforce our triple bottom line."

Since 2005, the college's investment in energy conservation has resulted in approximately $9.1-million in energy cost avoidance and reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 11,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This is an equivalent amount to that generated by 2,000 vehicles a year.

"With 42 buildings, at 13 sites in four counties, we are constantly looking for new energy management opportunities (EMOs) to reduce energy use and limit our carbon footprint."

- Nathan Gerber
is Fanshawe College's first-ever energy coordinator

Meantime, the collaboration between Fanshawe and London Hydro has expanded to include proactive training for energy-saving counterparts at the city, university and hospital campuses, and key manufacturers. Traditionally, London building operators responsible for large facilities with complex heating, mechanical and electrical systems must travel out-of-town to receive training – which can be both time-consuming and expensive.

Mr. Gerber notes Fanshawe saw the benefit of bringing the Building Operator Certification (BOC) program onsite for its staff, and then opened up the training to other local organizations – with funding from IESO, Union Gas and London Hydro. "Rather than colleagues having to travel to Toronto or Windsor for an intense eight-module, nine-day training program, we at Fanshawe are hosting the BOC program over nine weeks, with counterparts gathering at the college once a week to learn together, share challenges and opportunities, and build lasting connections for our community."

Mike Isber, manager of industrial conservation with London Hydro, commends Fanshawe for its leadership, "This localized training delivery model is new and innovative, and it is quickly evolving into a sustainable community of practice."

Reinforcing Fanshawe's commitment to energy conservation, the college is also a signatory to the Pan Canadian Protocol for Sustainability, and achieved a silver rating through the Sustainability, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) within the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).

Mr. Isber encourages other colleges and institutions to follow Fanshawe's lead to reduce energy use. "Many do not yet have someone like Nathan on staff, because they are hesitant to spend money on an extra project. Yet, applying to the Save on Energy program is a win-win for all, as its incentive funding helps cover the cost of an embedded energy manager position, and the resulting savings enable the organization to sustain the role moving forward."

How green is your college?

Environmental sustainability is essential for the health of the planet, says Marcia McKenzie, who leads the Sustainability and Education Policy Network (SEPN). She believes the post-secondary sector can have a big influence on shaping a sustainable future, but how do Canada’s colleges and institutes fare in implementing environmentally responsible strategies?

To find out whether a post-secondary institution is tackling sustainability in a meaningful way, Dr. McKenzie suggests looking at whether sustainability objectives extend to the domains of governance, operations, curriculum, research and community outreach, for example:

• Is the concept of sustainability – and associated objectives – well defined in strategic documents? Is there buy-in across the whole institution?

• Are sustainability objectives identified in all areas of institutional operations?

• Is environmental sustainability embedded in the curriculum across units?

• Are sustainability mandates reflected in institutional strategic research priority areas, and are related centres and chairs are being prioritized?

• How is the institution engaging with the broader community on sustainability issues?

As the most common barrier for making headway on sustainability objectives, Dr. McKenzie and her team have found a lack of alignment throughout institutions. “In some cases, the institution has a sustainability policy or plan, but it’s not on the radar of the upper administration, and there is no funding behind it,” she says.

This content was produced by Randall Anthony Communications, in partnership with The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.

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